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innovation DAILY

Here we highlight selected innovation related articles from around the world on a daily basis.  These articles related to innovation and funding for innovative companies, and best practices for innovation based economic development.

Many Web sites get most of their revenue from online advertising. So which advertisers are spending the most money online -- and helping online publishers keep the lights on?

AT&T and Verizon, the two largest U.S. phone companies, bought the most online ads last year, according to comScore. In the 12-month period ending last November, AT&T bought almost 85 billion ads, while Verizon bought almost 57 billion.

On the whole, U.S. Internet users viewed more than 4 trillion display ads last year, according to comScore, representing roughly 20% year-over-year growth.

comScore advertisers SAI chart
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How places like China, Brazil, and Israel are taking aggressive steps to encourage more start-ups – and what that means for the US.

From Europe to Asia and beyond, the hunger to innovate has created lots of entrepreneurial competition for America.

Start-up firms are helping to manage traffic in the teeming cities of Brazil and have allowed less-populous nations such as Israel to become fertile soil for new business ideas.

These nations view innovation as a vital source of economic competitiveness. Not that long ago, the United States was the clear world leader in most industries and technology.

Now, while it's hard to put any other nation as "No. 1," America no longer enjoys such a privileged position.

The global spread of inventiveness is a disruptive force but also a beneficial one, economists say. If more of the world's people are innovators, more will be creating new industries or solving problems like how to control carbon emissions.

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Fast Company Logo Mojo is a folkloric word that refers to the physical manifestation of a supernatural force. MOJO is also the title of a brand-new book by my friend and pre-eminent executive coach, Marshall Goldsmith. “Mojo,” as Marshall writes, “is that positive spirit toward what we are doing now that starts from the inside and radiates to the outside.”


Consider mojo a form of self-motivation that spurs us onward to achieve for ourselves as well as for others. There four aspects to this positive force, two are focused on the inner self and two are focused on our outer self. That split between what we are inside and how we are perceived makes the concept of mojo useful for anyone seeking to improve as well as to make a positive difference.

Let’s examine the four keys, each of which is defined by a straightforward but evocative question:

Identity: Who you think you are? Self-awareness becomes with an understanding of how you view yourself. The operative word in this question is think; that is, how do you perceive yourself. The book explores four aspects of identity – remembered, reflected, programmed and created. Understanding how each attribute affects your self-understanding provides a good handle on getting to know yourself better.

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Access to technology has become easier than ever. Technology concepts that once had a high barrier to entry to the uninitiated have converged into frameworks, APIs, and libraries which give even relatively unskilled programmers the ability to create web software easily. Cloud infrastructures can alleviate a large part of the cost and complexity of scaling and availability under high traffic demands.

The abstraction doesn't even stop at the basic technology; at one level above this, some of the fundamental use cases in web software can be delegated to high availability services e.g. Twitter or Facebook Connect for primary user login and profile management or Yahoo Pipes to translate and combine different data sources into a format you require without having to write a line of code. Reusing the essential use cases of software was an original vision in a startup I worked for nearly ten years go, and at the time it seemed a distant and indistinct goal. Today, loosely-coupled Service-Oriented Architectures allows business the freedom to focus on the core business problems.

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The old mechanism for funding the commercialization of new technologies is in trouble.

In the summer of 1996, Silicon Valley venture capitalists put a few million dollars into a telecom-equipment startup called Juniper Networks. Three years later, after a few more rounds of funding and the release of its first product, Juniper enjoyed an initial public offering of shares, or IPO. At the end of its first day of trading, it was worth nearly $5 billion, and within nine months, it was worth almost 10 times that. The original venture investors, meanwhile, were able to walk away with profits of better than 10,000 percent.

Around the same time Juniper went public, Silicon Valley venture capitalists were putting money into a new networking startup, Procket Networks. This time, the initial investments were bigger, and over successive rounds of financing, Procket collected almost $300 million in venture money. Three years after it started, though, the company had still not launched a product, and in 2004 its assets were acquired by Cisco in a fire-sale deal. This time the VCs walked away with just a fraction of their original investments.

The difference between those two stories is, of course, the difference between the world of the late-1990s technology-stock bubble and the world after that bubble burst. But of late, it also seems like the difference between the historical image of venture capital and the harsh reality of the current business. A decade ago, venture capitalists seemed like genuine alchemists, able to turn even startup dross into purest gold. In recent years, however, the industry has seemed less magical than mundane. Since 2004, its average five-year return has oscillated around zero. High-priced IPOs have become rare events, even as VCs have continued to pour tens of billions of dollars into new companies every year. As Fred Wilson, a principal at Union Square Ventures, bluntly puts it, "Venture capital funds, as a whole, basically made no money the entire decade."

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EurActiv LogoThe fruits of EU research are not being converted into marketable products due to difficulties in funding expensive "demonstration" projects, according to Bernhard Schleich of SusChem, a European technology platform for sustainable chemistry.

Schleich says Europe's research funds are geared towards pre-competitive research but stops short of backing new technology when it approaches the demonstration phrase.

He said most funding opportunities in Europe are still "research-oriented".

But it is a big step from a research result to a final, marketable product. Here, companies are often left alone because this phase is no longer considered pre-competitive – which is not always the case. Often excellent research will not be developed further because no 'risk funding' is available, Schleich said in an interview with EurActiv.

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R&D Credit Coalition - The research and development tax credit is a jobs credit – the Senate should act quickly to revive it, strengthen it, and make it permanent. When the credit expired on January 1st of this year, the cost of hiring R&D workers in the U.S. went up. Now, by expanding and permanently extending the credit, Congress could help to create over 100,000 jobs in a single stroke. An expanded credit would also add billions to our GDP and tax coffers, spur thousands of patents, and give companies one more reason to invest in America. More than 70 percent of the credit allowed to expire in December went to U.S. wages. Why leave a proven jobs credit on the table?

The R&D Credit Coalition is a group of more than 100 trade and professional associations [including NACFAM] along with small, medium and large companies that collectively represent millions of American workers engaged in U.S.-based research throughout major sectors of the U.S. economy, including aerospace, agriculture, biotechnology, chemicals, electronics, energy, information technology, manufacturing, medical technology, pharmaceuticals, software and telecommunications.

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THE government will provide up to $250 million as initial seed capital for public-private co-investment funds to be set up later this year to invest in Singapore firms, part of a broader initiative to help Singapore businesses attract more private capital to grow.

In an unexpected move, it also announced tax incentives to encourage rich individuals, or 'angel investors', to invest in start-up companies.

In addition, the government confirmed that it was studying how best to set up a specialised financial institution to plug gaps in the supply of cross-border financing for Singapore firms, similar to the export credit agencies or export-import (Exim) banks elsewhere - as recommended by the Economic Strategies Committee (ESC) earlier this month.

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In an earlier post, we posed the question, “Is College Necessary for Entrepreneurs?” While there are certainly good arguments for both sides, it’s a fact that a college degree does not guarantee success. And there are countless determined entrepreneurs who have proven that success can be achieved despite a lack of higher education.

We have compiled a list of 100 amazing “degreeless” entrepreneurs who have risen to the top. Some high-profile entrepreneurs you will recognize immediately, while others you may be discovering for the first time. Many of them didn’t complete elementary school, and still more are considered high school dropouts. Their backgrounds and industries run the gamut; however, they all have at least two things in common. Incredible success and no college degree.

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At a time when we need risk-takers to start companies and create jobs, we need to do everything we can to remove unnecessarily burdensome regulations that dampen entrepreneurship. A high-impact, low-cost reform would be to make some of the more onerous requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 optional. This would permit companies whose shareholders don’t feel that the benefits of “SOX” requirements outweigh compliance costs to access public capital more quickly and less expensively. This kind of access to capital is critical for the survival of young firms, which have accounted for all net job growth in the United States in the past two decades.

The logic behind this recommendation, laid out cogently in the Kauffman Foundation’s State of Entrepreneurship Address, is that SOX was enacted in the aftermath of corporate financial reporting scandals, after all, to protect shareholders. So why not allow shareholders to vote on whether their companies will fulfill certain SOX requirements?

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Watch this Kauffman Foundation/National Governors Association Center for Best Practices Event to be Web cast live from the Kauffman Foundation
"Spurring Business Startups and Innovation in Clean Technology"
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
2:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. EST
To view webcast go to: www.kauffman.org/NGA

Governors across the country are looking for ways to build their economy by supporting new businesses and spurring entrepreneurship. At the same time, they are looking for ways to build opportunities in emerging industries such as clean energy. This webcast will feature three ways in which states can use existing scientific and business talent to spur the creation of new clean energy companies:

  • By providing scientists and engineers with the skills and knowledge they need to start companies. - Andrew Hargadon, Center for Entrepreneurship, University of California, Davis, will discuss the Green Technology Entrepreneurship Academy, a one-week business development intensive that teaches science and engineering students and faculty how to commercialize research and start new ventures.
  • By transitioning entrepreneurs and executives from other high-tech sectors into the green energy sector. - Peter Rothstein, New England Clean Energy Council, will discuss the Clean Energy Fellowship Program, an entrepreneurial development program that rapidly transitions experienced entrepreneurs and executives into the region's clean energy sector.
  • By working across states to take existing small businesses to scale. - Kimberly Loui, Arizona State University, will present the soon-to-be launched Energy Innovation Network, which aims to catalyze interaction between states and other stakeholders to create the conditions necessary for the growth of existing startups in clean energy.

LoChlorine, a system for purifying polluted water: E-Team, University Of California at BerkeleyYou probably know about the NCAA, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, but did you know that there is a National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA)?  It has approximately 200 college and university members, and more than 5,000 students at these institutions are on entrepreneurial inventor teams (E-Teams).  Now, 15 of those teams are getting ready for a face-off at the March Madness for the Mind showcase in San Francisco.

The three-day event, March 25 - March 27, 2010 at the San Francisco Hilton, Financial District, will feature lectures and panels but, most importantly, it will bring the "E-Teams" together with venture capitalists who can further the advancement of the student inventions. Additionally, the 15 E-Teams, which received grants from the NCIIA last year, will exhibit their inventions to the public at the March Madness for the Mind showcase at San Francisco's Exploratorium® in the Palace of Fine Arts on March 27, 2010.

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